B.S. Satish Kumar
75 villages register 11 per cent agricultural growth rate
BANGALORE: Seventy-five villages under five gram panchayats in Doddaballapur taluk have registered a robust agricultural growth rate of about 11 per cent. This has assumed importance as the agriculture sector in the State and the country has grown only by a little over 2 per cent in the past few years.
These villages with 8,340 families coming under Tubagere hobli have witnessed such a high growth rate after their inclusion in the Rural Bio-resource Complex pilot project of the Union Department of Biotechnology implemented through the University of Agricultural Sciences (Bangalore) for instilling confidence in farmers by helping them to increase their income levels.
Rural Bio-resource Complex Project coordinator and agriculture extension expert K. Narayana Gowda told The Hindu that these villages had been registering such a growth rate since 2006 after the project was launched in 2005.
“But for 2009, when the growth rate came down to 9 per cent owing to two prolonged dry spells, the rate has been 11 per cent in the remaining three years,” he said.
He said that his team of scientists, who are monitoring the farm activity of every household in these villages, had computed the above growth rate by taking into consideration the average income of every household from all agricultural operations. “We have even sought an independent assessment by an outside agency,” he noted.
“No suicide case involving farmers has been reported from the 75 villages after the launch of the project. Migration of farmers to cities in search of work has also reduced,” he said, and pointed out that 64.76 per cent of the families coming under the project area were small and marginal farmers and 26.68 per cent families had no land.
While individual income has increased, the average yield per hectare of land has doubled owing to timely interventions from the scientists most of whom are camping in the villages to assist farmers with technical inputs.
To begin with, the team identified crops that are not suitable for the geographical condition of this area and convinced farmers to replace them with suitable ones such as maize, baby/sweet corn, etc.
They also studied the farm practices and improvised them to increase yield. They convinced the farmers to take up crops such as rose, tissue-culture banana, etc., in addition to sweet/baby corn, and increase the area under cash crops such as mulberry.
Importance has been given to multi-cropping, integrated farming and sustainable agricultural practices not only to increase their income levels, but also to ensure that such incomes become a permanent fixture.
The scientists convinced the farmers to take up vermi-compost and many have vermi-compost units.
To promote cooperative farming, nine groups of farmers have been formed under the project to grow crops such as jackfruit, flowers and corn, and to take up organic farming, rural bio-fuel and fishery.
These groups not only get farm inputs from the market collectively but also market them together so that they will save on transportation costs.